Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., who stands accused of being one of the most notorious serial killers in United States’ history, comes from a military family and was a child of divorce. DeAngelo’s brother, father, and uncle were wounded in military conflicts, and the suspect served in Vietnam.
Old newspaper articles from the 1940s, ancestral records, and obituaries help flesh out the background of the man accused of being the Golden State Killer, who was also called the Original Night Stalker and East Side Rapist due to the campaign of terror he inflicted on California in the 1970s and 1980s. Altogether, at least 13 people lost their lives and 45 women were raped by the Golden State Killer. DeAngelo has been charged in four of the deaths.
When the killer was unmasked, authorities say he was a 72-year-old Vietnam vet, father of three, grandfather, and ex-cop who worked at a grocery store distribution center in the Sacramento, California area. Joseph DeAngelo’s mother was named Kathleen DeGroat DeAngelo and later took the name Kathleen Bosanko when she remarried. DeAngelo’s father was named Joseph James DeAngelo Sr., and he hailed from Watkins Glen, New York.
Here’s what you need to know about the suspect’s parents:
1. Joseph DeAngelo’s Father Was an Airman in World War II Who Died in South Korea
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. graduated from Folsom High School and California State University, Sacramento, according to old newspaper articles. However, both he and his parents were originally from New York.
The wedding announcement for DeAngelo Jr. and his now estranged wife, Sharon Huddle, states that DeAngelo’s parents were Mrs. Jack Bosanko of Garden Grove and Joseph J. DeAngelo of Korea. According to a 1973 newspaper article from The Exeter Sun, DeAngelo was born in Bath, New York, and his mother’s name was Kathleen. She died in 2010, and his father died in South Korea in 1995, although the circumstances of the latter’s death are not clear (the social security death index gives his place and date of death as “15 Feb 1995 Apo, Armed Forces – Pacific.”)
According to an old newspaper article from 1944 in the Star-Gazette, the suspect’s father, Sgt. Joseph DeAngelo, was awarded seven clusters to the Air Medal for meritorious achievement. His 15th Army Air Force unit holds a presidential citation for the “low level attack on the Ploesti oil fields in Romania,” the old newspaper article states. “The top turret gunner received the decorations in a ceremony on an Italian airfield. He has flown in raids on targets in Italy, France, Austria and Germany.”
DeAngelo’s father, then of Bath, New York, was wounded in action over Australia. He was serving with the Army Air Force as a gunner on a B-24 bomber. He had entered the service in April 1942 and was trained at the Biloxi Air Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. He left the United States with a combat group in 1943, according to another archived news article.
At the time, he and his wife had a 17-month-old daughter, the newspaper article stated.
This is the wedding announcement for the suspect’s parents, who were married in a Baptist Church in 1941 in New York. His mother was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles DeGroat, and his father was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel DeAngelo (His mother’s name was Mary DeAngelo, and ancestral records show she was an Italian immigrant).
It’s not clear when the suspect’s parents split up. DeAngelo Jr. was born in November 1945. In 1949, his parents had another son, according to a newspaper birth announcement.
2. Joseph DeAngelo’s Mother Was Remembered as a ‘Beautiful Person & a Wonderful Mother
The obituary for Kathleen Louise Bosanko says she was 87 when she died in 2010 and left behind four children, one of whom was Joe DeAngelo. “She was a beautiful person and a wonderful Mother,” the obituary says.
Her headstone refers to her as “Ramblin Rose,” although it’s not clear why. According to the Sacramento Bee, DeAngelo had a brother, and his mother worked as a waitress at Denny’s. Her new husband, Jack Bosanko, served in the Navy in World War II, according to burial records. They married in Tulare, California.
Bosanko was known as “Kay.”
Kathleen’s obituary says she was survived by four children, two daughters and two sons, including Joe DeAngelo. She was close to her three grandchildren, all daughters, from DeAngelo Jr., the obit says. She was preceded in death by “her beloved husband Jack as well as her parents, two brothers and 2 sisters,” the obituary reads, concluding with this quote: “Our love for you will never die and you will be held so close to our hearts and will be so greatly missed.”
3. An Uncle Is Buried in Arlington Cemetery & DeAngelo Jr. & His Brother Served in the Vietnam War
Burial records show that DeAngelo’s father’s brother was a World War II and Korean War veteran who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and received the Purple Heart. An old newspaper article reported that the suspect’s brother was injured in the Vietnam War and hospitalized in Guam.
By that point, 1971, Kathleen was Kathleen Bosanko and living in Auburn, California, with her husband Jack. An artilleryman, DeAngelo Jr.’s brother lost a finger in the Vietnam conflict.
After graduating from Folsom High in 1964, DeAngelo Jr., the suspect, served in the Vietnam War. DeAngelo worked as a police officer in Exeter, California in the early 1970s, and he worked for the Auburn Police Department through the late 1970s, although he was fired in 1979 “after he was charged with stealing a hammer and dog repellent from a Citrus Heights drug store,” The Auburn Journal reported.
An archived 1967 article from a California newspaper shows that Joseph J. DeAngelo Jr. served in the U.S. Navy as a a damage controlman 2nd class on the USS Canberra, which was “expected to dock at San Diego … following service on the gun line off North Vietnam.” Another article reported that he completed basic training in December 1964.
4. DeAngelo Moved to California With His Mother & Stepfather When He Was a Teen
According to The Sacramento Bee, a former neighbor named Doug Burgarel said that DeAngelo moved to rural Auburn, California with his mother and stepfather when he was a teenager.
“DeAngelo’s stepfather worked for Burgarel’s father at Sierra Crane and Hoist as a welder making indoor overhead cranes,” reported the newspaper.
His sister, Rebecca Thompson, told The Bee that she was shocked by his arrest, saying, “As stunned as I am – because I’ve never seen him display any kind of madness or anything like that – I just can’t believe it. I’ve never seen anything to allow myself to think he could do such things.”
5. The Suspect Is Estranged From His Wife & Has Three Daughters
DeAngelo was married in 1973 to his only wife, Sharon Huddle, a Sacramento-area lawyer from whom he is estranged. They had three daughters together, one of whom is a doctor and one of whom is a graduate student at a California university. The wedding announcement says that the Auburn First Congregational Church served as the setting for the marriage of Sharon Marie Huddle and Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. It states that she is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Huddle of Citrus Heights. She was listed as a graduate of San Juan High School and American River College.
According to archived newspaper articles and public records, DeAngelo appears to have been engaged to be married in 1970 to another woman, but he did not marry that woman, although the circumstances are unclear. Her Facebook page says she currently lives in Sacramento. DeAngelo and that woman both attended Sierra College.
Authorities revealed the break in the case came from newly developed DNA evidence. According to authorities, they got their big break in only the past week. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said it came through “DNA evidence that was examined at the Sacramento County crime lab.” Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said authorities used “discarded” DNA from DeAngelo to make the arrest.
The cases he’s charged in are the 1978 murders of Brian Maggiore and his wife, Katie, and the 1980 deaths of Charlene and Lyman Smith. It’s believed the serial killer also slew Alexandria Manning, Dr. Robert Offerman, Patrice Harrington, Keith Harrington, Manuela Witthuhn, Cheri Domingo, Gregory Sanchez, Janelle Cruz, and possibly Claude Snelling.
DeAngelo’s first daughter was born in September 1981, his second daughter was born in November 1986 and his third daughter was born in May 1989. Authorities allege the serial killer’s murders stopped in 1986, although it’s not clear why.
Huddle has a law firm that specializes in family, divorce and real estate law, according to its page on Yelp. The Yelp page featured a scathing but unverified review about Huddle.
According to the California State Bar, Sharon M. Huddle has an active license to practice law in that state. She was admitted to the bar in 1982, was inactive for 8 months in 1987, and then was active again. She practices in Roseville, California, and has no disciplinary actions on her license. She attended McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific.